They say in Hindi “jo bhi hota hai acche ke liye hota hai” meaning what ever happens, happens for good. The support for Anna’s movement with India Against Corruption may have gone haywire today but it got the government to be alert. In the whole fight not only the government was caught sleeping but also found technically challenged when it came to social media. It had a lip service presence with no strategy in place. However since then things have been slowly changing and the Indian government has shown a greatness of character on social media.
The Indian PMO’s office launched itself on Twitter in the month of Jan and within two months it has a fan following of 60,000. This is a clear evidence that the online Indian community wants to talk to their leaders and ask questions too. However till now the Twitter account is being used just like a press release of events held by the PM. We had recently done a detailed study on the @PMOIndia Twitter account and had found the above insights.
Besides Twitter now the PMO is also present on Facebook and Youtube. In comparison to Twitter, Facebook has been really cool. It’s really very encouraging to see the government adopting the new timeline feature which is still being neglected by Indian brands. The page owners have used the timeline feature effectively by listing milestone’s going back in the past. However it would have been great if the page could have listed the entire life of Dr. Manmohan Singh. Content has been regular and focused. As we all know Facebook is a social network and not that effective when it comes to one-to-one communication so it would have been beneficial if the PMO’s office had concentrated more on Facebook rather than Twitter. Youtube has also been roped in as one more channel and the Youtube brand channel has listed few videos that are mostly speeches by our PM.
Along with the government, other government offices are also slowly joining the race. Last year we had interviewed Vineeta Dixit on the social media draft being prepared for all government departments. However we haven’t heard much on that end but the The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting(I&B), has joined Facebook recently. The objective is to create a public awareness campaign and to address issues related to the public process of digitalization as was shared by MediaNama.
The Facebook page, which has already gathered 700 likes in a few day’s launch and interestingly the brand page depicts look of old brand page. The wall again shows the same similarity in communication that has been done by other government official pages too such as Govt2in, Indian Finance Ministry, etc. It would be too early to pass on a judgment but I am bearish that I would see a two-way dialogue where the page owners take an active part in discussions. And on second thoughts I feel that for creating awareness and addressing issues related to the public, Twitter would have been a better medium.
However the government is not only jumping on social media but it has understood that it requires some guidance as age old methods of interaction won’t work. One of the very early moves like Mr. Pankaj Pachauri’s appointment, as PM’s Communication Adviser was a positive move. And if reports are to be believed by The Hindu not only did the I&B ministry launch it’s Facebook page but also had a two day training program on social media held for it’s forty officers at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication, Delhi. Not a bad move and I had also shared a bunch of I&B people were recently sent to UK for getting trained on social media.
These signs are definitely positive and even though the government has been slow in adopting social media but it is not ignoring it. However all these will only come into effect when the Government is ready to listen and use social media as a two-way communication tool. Live tweeting about an event by the PMOIndia might be a surprise but then without any conversation it will fizz out. However it is really interesting to observe that on one hand the government has been talking about content regulation and on the other is testing the untouched grounds. Must say the government is desperate and trying everything possible.
So for now all those people who made a lot of hue and cry yesterday that Facebook is down and could be blocked by the Government, holds no truth. Till the time big daddy is on social media, we have nothing to worry!
I am not too skeptic of these moves by the Government considering the Central Elections in the next two years. I think this time the Central Elections would also be fought hard on social media along with other rival parties. We have seen the early positive and effective signs by Akhilesh Yadav on social media during the recent UP elections. What do you think?